Wed | Dec 7, 2016

Jamaicans making the most of overseas studies

Published:Friday | November 21, 2014 | 12:00 AM
J. Casey Hurley (seated), who is in charge of educational leadership in the Department of Human Services at Western Carolina University, speaks with Kingston High School fifth-form students Ravion Watson and Toddj Ready (right) at the United States Embassy College Fair yesterday at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer

Andrew Harris, Gleaner Writer

Don Cunningham, a graduate of Manchester High School in Jamaica, who is now director of international recruiting for the Lincoln College of Technology in the United States, believes local students should seriously consider taking advantage of the benefits of studying overseas.

Cunningham, who was speaking with The Gleaner on the first day of the United States Embassy College Fair at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston yesterday, noted that unlike other colleges, Lincoln does not require students to sit the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).

"The world is a smaller place today and, being that Jamaicans are everywhere, it is important to do overseas studies," he said.

"My college is a technical college, and with Jamaica being a tourist destination, we need people to work in the hospitality and culinary [sectors]."

He argued that while he was not discrediting local universities, the world has seen a paradigm shift, and has become more service oriented, which makes it very important for Jamaicans to seek overseas education so they can take advantage of a range of opportunities.

Cunningham also noted that there are many Jamaican past students of Lincoln College, who are working in well-known hotels and other tourist attractions.

WORLD OF OPPORTUNITIES

Like Cunningham, Monroe College recruiting officer Patrice Henry, a Glenmuir High past student, also sought overseas education, which she now recommends to other Jamaicans.

Monroe College has received much interest from Jamaicans over the years and, according to Henry, the students have been benefiting a great deal from the experience.

There are students there on both academic and athletic scholarships, who are doing well in school activities.

"When our Dean's List and President's List come out, Jamaicans populate those lists and those students are maintaining from a 3.5 to a 4.0 GPA (grade point average)," said Henry, who noted that the college has Jamaicans doing well on both academic and athletic scholarships.

"There is this optional practical training (OPT) programme where, at the end of studies, students get one year to work in the US, and a lot of students, after internship on the OPT programme, are hired by US companies," she added. "So a lot of them get the opportunity to stay in the US and become residents."

A number of students who turned out to the college fair said they wanted to study overseas to either get that opportunity of a change in that environment or because local universities do not offer courses they are interested in.

"I see my life in the US and my interest is in the Federal Bureau of Investigations," said 16-year-old Carees Stephens, a student of Kingston High School.

Stephens hopes to sit seven subjects in the upcoming Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations.

For 17-year-old Dominic Saunders, who copped 10 ones in the 2014 CSEC examinations, and is obsessed with aeroplanes, studying overseas is his best option for becoming an aerospace engineer.

"I think that the overseas programmes are better in terms of what I want to do. The best programme out here is in medicine, and I have no interest in medicine," said Saunders.

"I want to go into the field of designing the planes, and so I would want to attend either Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida or Massachusetts Institute of Technology," Saunders added.

The US Embassy said the free college fair, which continues at the conference centre today from 9 a.m. to noon and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., offers students a unique opportunity to consult with representatives from American universities, discuss programme options, entry/matriculation requirements, financial aid and campus life.

"Additionally, there will be workshops specifically designed for guidance counsellors and sixth-form coordinators who prepare students for tertiary studies in the United States," the embassy said.

The final day of the fair will be tomorrow at the Half Moon Hotel in Montego Bay, St James, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

andrew.harris@gleanerjm.com